“Year-End Reflection: Navigating the Lack of Civility and Hope for Nuanced Discourse”

Monica Sanders
2 min readDec 13, 2023

As the year draws to a close, it’s a moment to reflect, to acknowledge the challenges that weigh heavily upon our discourse, and yet, to hold onto the threads of hope that weave through these troubled times.

The current landscape of public discussion is marred by a concerning absence of civility and critical thinking. The complexities of issues, such as the conflict between Israel and Hamas, are muddled by an atmosphere where honest critique becomes fraught with the fear of reprisal. Criticizing either side risks being branded with accusations of antisemitism or Islamophobia, stifling genuine conversations about foreign policy and public actions. I faced this in working on a journalism piece about the environmental impacts of war.

Moreover, this lack of nuanced discussion extends far beyond the conflict itself. Misinformation remains unchallenged, seeping into discussions about climate change, racial and gender issues, and even the fundamental pillars of our democracy. Black women face silent attacks, such as lawsuits targeting investment funds and maternal health organizations, moving forward in ominous quietude, signaling an unsettling acceptance. The LGBTQ community faces similar challenges, their struggles are often met with a disquieting silence.

Amidst this disheartening backdrop, there are glimmers of hope. CEOs advocating against the erosion of ESG reporting and sustainability efforts offer a counterbalance. Additionally, the resolve of young individuals, both in the United States and globally, who have pursued and won legal battles to ensure the right to a healthy environment, is a beacon of optimism.

Recognizing these flickers of positivity is a testament to the relentless dedication of independent journalists working diligently beyond the spotlight. Their unwavering commitment enables us to shed light on some of the most daunting issues facing our world.

The year’s close prompts us not only to lament the absence of civility and critical thinking but also to cling steadfastly to the hope embedded in these small victories. While the road ahead may seem shrouded in uncertainty, these glimpses of progress remind us that dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment to truth and justice can still carve a path toward a more enlightened future.

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Monica Sanders

Founder, The Undivide Project (www.theundivideproject.org); Activist-Scholar; Professor@Georgetown; Senior Fellow, Tulane Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy